The Fort: Old West Dining in Morrison

If you have always wanted to dine on rattlesnake meat, buffalo tongue, or other exotic game meats, the Fort is the place to go. Founded by the late Sam Arnold, this large upscale restaurant surrounded by two-foot adobe walls, is built as a replica of Bent’s Fort near LaJunta, Colorado. It offers many exotic specialties that you just don’t find in many restaurants in the Denver area.

A few years back we felt privileged to enjoy the gracious hospitality of Arnold and his charming daughter Holly Arnold Kinney. Kinney is now the proprietress of The Fort. My biggest surprise was finding bone marrow quite tasty when I scooped it out from the broiled buffalo bones. While we dined on expertly-prepared game specialties, they shared their amazing story of The Fort.

Before opening the restaurant in 1963, Arnold, a well-known historian and cookbook author, researched foods that were served at Bent’s Fort in the 1800s for his menu.  He also studied over 2,000 books and diaries kept by trappers and traders along the 19th century Santa Fe Trail.

Famous people—from princes to presidents to pop stars—have wined and dined here. President Bill Clinton chose The Fort for a Summit of the Eight meeting of the chiefs of state from the richest industrialized countries of the world.

If You Go

The Fort
19192 Highway 8
Morrison, CO

Reservations recommended. It’s easy to make reservations and get driving directions on their website:  Or call 303/697-4771. The Fort is closed on Monday.  It opens at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and at 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.  For a limited time, the Stockman’s Three-Course Dinner Special is $35.

The patio is a nice place to gather in warm weather, especially when the cannon sounds.  There are nine dining room (each with its own fireplace) built around a central courtyard. In the summer, a Plains Indian tepee is constructed in the courtyard. From the main dining room, you’ll enjoy the beautiful view of Denver, the foothills above and the plains beyond.

Margaret Malsam. a Colorado freelancer, has authored two books and written for numerous national magazines and newspapers, including FAMILY FUN, COUNTRY WOMAN, ELKS MAGAZINE, MIDWEST MOTORIST, TOURING AMERICA, MIAMI HERALD, BOSTON GLOBE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE and others.